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REC Inquiry Projects

Browse the entire collection of REC Inquiry Projects—structured using the Project Approach framework (REC# 8080). Each title leads you to an inquiry project done by Ohio early childhood teachers and their preschool class. For each project, you'll find an overview of the project and a lively description of the three project phases, including details such as planning webs, a list of Ohio Early Learning Content Standards addressed during the project, and more!

The Baking Project
The children in the classroom expressed an intense interest in cooking. “What are we going to make next?” was a frequent question. But when given a present of a toaster oven that was so different from other ovens the children had seen before, the interest became more focused, and the class began their investigation of baking and ovens.
The Bicycle Project
The bicycle store in the neighborhood was the perfect place to spark questions and investigation for this class of preschoolers. The store display of bikes gave the children opportunities to observe, compare, and investigate. Books, materials, and objects brought to the classroom provided more information and answers to questions like, how does a bike work?
The Bird Nest Project
After spying a bird's nest in the play yard, the children began to build bird nests and put them on the fence top. Questions such as “What do birds eat?” and “Where do birds live?” fueled the project, which spanned nearly six months.
The Bird Project
One day, a preschool class placed corn kernels and pumpkin seeds outside in the meadow near the school. On their next visit, Keli exclaimed, “Someone ate the seeds from the pumpkin!” “Who do you think ate the seed?” the teacher asked, and ultimately a full-fledged investigation of birds ensued.
The Bread-Making Project
A preschool class discovered a French bakery near the school, and the exhilarating smells led to intriguing questions. What makes the crust? Do you like cinnamon or chocolate bread the best? These queries led to five months of absorbing, child-directed learning experiences.
The Bridge Project
When the children began to notice and sketch the bridges in their playground area, the teachers thought perhaps it would lead to some inquiry. And they were correct. The children’s questions—such as “What makes a bridge stay up?”—framed the investigation. The meaningful classroom and field site experiences provided opportunities for the children to find the answers.
The Bus Project
Children on their daily walk around campus began noticing and talking about buses. The children asked questions like “How do buses drive? and “Does the horn beep?” This interest led to the investigation of buses which utilized the help of a local bus driver and part of a real bus situated in the lobby of the center.
The Camera Project
Ms. Jo snapped a picture of the children at “work” in the block area. Across the room, children noticed the flash. Juan said, “Take one of me, too!” Others joined in with growing enthusiasm, and that’s when the idea for the camera project first came to mind. It grew into a cool collaboration between preschoolers and high school students.
The Car Project
The car project was the first opportunity for this class of new preschoolers and their teachers to experience project work together. When the children used the dress-up cart as a car, the teachers took that as a hint. They were right, and the car project adventure began.
The Dog Project
Many questions about dogs and their behavior puzzled a class of young children on their morning walks. How do dogs bark? Do they take baths? These inquiries led to an extensive, ongoing study of dogs that included meeting dogs in the classroom, watching a dog being groomed, meeting a rescue dog named Dr. Quincy, and lots more.
The Duck Project
When the class visited a nearby park, the children delighted in feeding the ducks. The curious classmates began asking questions. "What do the ducks eat?" "Don't they get cold when the weather gets cold?" Their intense interest prompted their teachers to initiate an exploration of ducks—in and out of water.
The Fish Project
This is the story of how one Ohio preschool class and teacher took an investigative journey that began with an empty aquarium in the new classroom, included a trip to a pet shop and a nearby creek, and ended as the children shared their newfound knowledge and experiences with family and friends beside the child-created classroom mural.
The Ice Cream Project
There were two recurring themes in children’s daily play and conversations—bugs and food. The children voted to investigate food, which wouldn’t have been the teachers’ preference, but it did meet many practical criteria, so the investigation began.
The Instrument Project
As the year began, the children tapped rhythms as they sang and were curious about every instrument that the teachers brought into the room. Soon, however, drums and guitars became the major focus of the children’s investigations and experiments.
The Mail Project
When the class wrote a thank-you letter to a visitor, it sparked great interest into what happened to the mail after it was put in the mailbox. To find answers, the class visited a post office, invited a postal worker to visit, and began to construct their own post office.
The Planting Project
How did a tiny seed of an idea bloom into learning all about plants? When the teacher decided to repot the overgrown plants, she noticed that nearly all the children were eager to help. By listening to the children’s chatter about new pots, plant characteristics, and repotting opinions, she soon realized that an investigation of planting would be a perfect class project.
The Sound Project
Do you hear what I hear? Toddlers characteristically experience the world around them through their senses. At this center, the children 18–30 months explored the classroom and materials by being curious and listening and in the process learned how to have fun making beautiful noise.
The Trackhoe Project
Watching a busy trackhoe at work outside the playground fence every day and hearing the “beep, beep, beep” as it backed from place to place piqued the children’s curiosity about large construction machines and led to an exploration of trackhoes.
The Woods Project
The woods near the school are open and inviting, but one day the children noticed the “new woods” on the other side of the center. They were very curious about the area. It lacked a clear entrance, but after the brush was cleared, the class began to explore it almost daily. The children were chock-full of questions and observations, and the project grew from there.
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Did You Know?
Inquiry Projects Can Meet Individual Needs
Come see the documentation of Let's Learn projects, like the Bread-Making Project, that met the individual learning needs of children.
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